NEC's French link-up hailed as 'milestone'

The NEC has signed its long-awaited deal with French event services firm GL Events that will see the Birmingham venue offer contracted services to exhibition organisers.

The joint venture will focus on providing value-added services such as bespoke shell scheme and exhibitor management solutions.

Event first reported on the proposed deal when news of initial talks were leaked during the Designer and Contractor Conference at Excel in June (Event, July/August 2006.)

Paul Thandi, chief executive of the NEC Group, said: "This is an important milestone for the NEC Group as it signals our genuine intention to lead from the front in setting new benchmarks for exhibition presentation and to grow the overall market.

"GL Events is a formidable partner - their product range and expertise has made them European leader and it's a pleasure to work with them to bring their innovation into the UK."

The new venture forms part of the NEC's commitment to help raise the quality of exhibition presentation and rival other media. Its services will be set apart from existing UK operators by its emphasis on continental Europe and French design and service models.

David Harding has been brought on board as managing director of the division.

Harding owned his own retail services and property company in Portugal until 2006 when he began consulting in the exhibition industry. He will be supported by Catherine Barnard, who has assumed the role of operations manager.

Harding said: "This is a really exciting role for me. The exhibition industry is well placed to take advantage of the tangible opportunities that exist to win market share from other forms of product promotion.

"I want to turn the contracting services model on its head and take a fresh look at the top end of the contracting services market and where it crosses over into space-only to see what we can offer UK exhibition organisers and exhibitors."

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